Philosophy, Rantings

The Age of the iPod

Nowadays we’re living with a huge amount of noise. This is a very loose way of saying that we’re bombarded with technology, and let’s not forget the advertising and subcultures that go with it. It’s hard and confusing, but if you can master the technology of today, then you and I are open to endless possibilities.

Ever since the iPod and various other media devices became a norm, people have been obsessed with music and now anyone from a teenager to a middle aged father is listening to music. It’s a great thing to know that you can carry your whole cd wallet in a little pouch that is lighter than your actual wallet where more crucial information is stored. But also your wallet has become a little less relevant to how you want to feel about life. Your wallet has now become a product of the noise of our generation.

Balancing noise and narcissism

A while ago I was talking to a Doctor at my work. He told he doesn’t like technology at ALL. He told me that it’s made us removed from the world and with what’s going on. Although he’s not entirely correct, I’m forced to wonder how much of what he’s saying is actually true. One tragedy about an iPod is that it can cause us to introvert. One out of every ten customers I deal with, I don’t approach and ask them for help since they’re glued to the music on their belt, and simply want to waft in and out of the shop, in their music and their own thoughts. It gets on my nerves because I’m unsure if they want help, or they want to just be left alone instead.

I also understand them, because I’m a natural-born metal head and some days I enjoy the idea of simply plugging into a great album and forgetting about everything else for a while. So is this Noise (in the positive sense of the word) or blind Narcissism that’s provoking us?

It’s both to be honest. I don’t see life as an ultimatum, because that would be cruel and unfair to my own morals. The Greek legend of Narcissus is still a powerful one, so here is the story:

[Narcissus] in Greek mythology, the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Leiriope; he was distinguished for his beauty. His mother was told that he would have a long life, provided he never looked upon his own features. His rejection, however, of the love of the nymph Echo or of his lover Ameinias drew upon him the vengeance of the gods. He fell in love with his own reflection in the waters of a spring and pined away (or killed himself); the flower that bears his name sprang up where he died. According to another source, Narcissus, to console himself for the death of his beloved twin sister, his exact counterpart, sat gazing into the spring to recall her features.

The story may have derived from the ancient Greek superstition that it was unlucky or even fatal to see one’s own reflection. In psychiatry and especially psychoanalysis, the term narcissism denotes an excessive degree of self-esteem or self-involvement, a condition that is usually a form of emotional immaturity.

Narcissus. (2009). Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica.

In short we have a man who is forced into a period of water-gazing because of external factors in the environment. Our fallen hero has now become blinded by what he sees. In my opinion you could replace the harmless bowl of water, with an iPod, for our generation. It would seem absurd to argue that an iPod could actually kill someone. I won’t even make that statement for fear of living with the consequences and court cases. It is a strong example of how too much of a good thing could be detrimental to what we are unaware of.

An iPod at best can make us look antisocial, angry, happy, relaxed, meditative and internally engaged with ourselves. How then can we listen to music without breaking social barriers? My advice is to keep your life (and what you listen to) to two big containers.

The Two containers

The first is labeled ‘Online’ and the other ‘Offline’. These terms can be translated as Public and Private Life. Although society may try and merge these two categories, I think that is important we keep them (for the most part) separate.

So when you are at home, or in your car, or any other private space, that would be a good time to listen to your iPod. Although if you are in any kind of public place I would suggest that you whip it out of your ears, and engage with your external environment. This may seem like a massive shock to an introvert who is terrified of talking to people, although I still think it’s important. The only small exception I’ll add to this list is if you use an iPod for exercise. So if you are running down the road or going to the gym with an iPod plugged into your head, you should keep it there so you can continue pumping iron and jogging. If you don’t (when you’re in a public space) and you keep listening to a song of yours, it may seem fine, but you would be missing out on an opportunity to talk to your external environment.

Next you get the internet which is an equally vital part of our culture. So should we allow ourselves to become Offline with regards to the internet? Well, I’m afraid that the ball is in your court on this one. With software like Facebook and MySpace, we feel a great deal safer to be open about what we think and feel. Tread with caution, for once you have stuck your feet into the electronic river of information, is virtually impossible to get away from it.

If you are, like myself, addicted to burrowing into the corners of the internet, then for goodness sake research exactly what you are burrowing into! I have a very active mind, and I’ve always made it a habit of mine to investigate my own behaviors. For example in high school I started listening to heavy metal, much to the horror of my parents, and from then on I decided to read numerous articles on the internet. Some would be album reviews, while others would look at metal as a whole (from its birth with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath) right up to the present day (with names like Metallica, Slipknot, Cradle of Filth and Korn) swarming the charts.

On the same topic I’ve read books and articles on the blogging and Facebook so I feel satisfied with what I’m getting into. If in doubt of what to do next, research your subject in question.

The River of Creation and Chaos

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus argued that you cannot step into the same river twice. The reason is that he argued that river is in flux. So try to picture the Greek symbol for infinity which is our numerical symbol for 8, which has been pushed on its side. The river, like the symbol for infinity, is never-ending…hence the word ‘flux’. The river we may swim in may last longer than our existence on earth does. The reason for this is because that’s just the way it is. It’s a form of energy that never stops.

What does the saying mean then? Well, every time you dip your foot into the river, you are in different particles of water, because the river is constantly flowing. You can then argue that we experience the river differently every time we immerse ourselves in it, because some time has passed since when we last dipped our foot in, and at the same token, we may be older people (if even by a few minutes) compared to our initial encounter with the river. Now consider the internet… 😀

In philosophy there are three questions we start off asking ourselves, to stimulate our minds.

– Why are we here?

– Where have we come from?

– Where are we going?

It’s a tough one to consider; now if you ask the internet those same questions (by replacing ‘we’ with ‘you’) then the outcome is equally flabbergasting. The internet is an unknown river to most of us. We will just find one small spot where we enjoy swimming and make use of it! So as an ‘iPod generation’ I think that we should choose to embrace this river that, like it or not, we’re bound to come into contact with.

It may not always be what we’re expecting, but it gives us a sense of peace and solace in a strange way. So even if you haven’t read up on the river you’re dipping into, and are feeling a little nervous about it, just be aware of it, and a little research is always a good idea. 😉

PhilosopherPoet

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